India warns travellers to Canada of 'politically-condoned' violence as diplomatic row worsens
Prime Minister Trudeau linked death of Sikh activist to 'agents of the Indian government'
Citing concerns about "politically-condoned" hate crimes and violence, India warned its citizens Wednesday to exercise the "utmost caution" when travelling in Canada.
India's new travel advisory for "Indian nationals and Indian students in Canada" warns that "threats have particularly targeted Indian diplomats and sections of the Indian community."
"In view of growing anti-India activities and politically-condoned hate crimes and criminal violence in Canada, all Indian nationals there and those contemplating travel are urged to exercise utmost caution," the advisory says.
The foreign ministry in New Delhi issued the updated travel advisory Wednesday, just days after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told Parliament that Canada's national security apparatus has reason to believe that "agents of the Indian government" carried out the killing of a Canadian citizen at a Sikh temple in British Columbia in June.
"Canadian security agencies have been actively pursuing credible allegations of a potential link between agents of the government of India and the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar," Trudeau said.
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Nijjar, 45, was shot dead outside a gurdwara in Surrey, B.C., on June 18. A leader in the Sikh diaspora in Canada, Nijjar had been active in a group supporting the push for an independent Sikh homeland in northern India called Khalistan.
Nijjar had been branded a "terrorist" by the Indian government and accused of leading a militant separatist group — something his supporters have denied.
Indian officials called Trudeau's allegations "absurd" and "unsubstantiated" and summoned Canada's High Commissioner to India to inform him that a senior Canadian diplomat had been kicked out of India and given five days to leave.
The Indian foreign ministry said it will remain in contact with Canadian authorities to ensure the safety of Indian communities in Canada. It warned that "students in particular are advised to exercise extreme caution and remain vigilant."
Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities Sean Fraser said Wednesday that he would not comment on the specifics of the probe into Nijjar's death because he does not want to compromise any investigations.
He said Canadians should have faith in the security services' ability to investigate the death. "It's important that if we believe in justice ... we believe in the process that gets us there," he said.
"I am sure there are good reasons not to share details that may ground such extraordinary allegations because protecting the process of getting to a just result is extremely important," Fraser said.
Speaking on his way into the Liberal caucus meeting Wednesday morning, MP Marcus Powlowski, who represents the riding of Thunder Bay—Rainy River, said India's travel advice "sounds like a joke."
Marc Serré, the Liberal MP for the Northern Ontario riding of Nickel Belt, said India can do what it wants with its travel advisories but Canada has to stand by its citizens.
"There's a lot of individuals here, even in Northern Ontario, Sudbury, the students, they are concerned with the Indian government, they are concerned with what's going on and I think we as Canadians, we have to stand together with them," he said.
While in New York City for the UN General Assembly, Trudeau spoke about India at every bilateral meeting he attended with other world leaders, including EU President Ursula von der Leyen and leaders from Chile, Kenya, Italy and Germany.
Also in New York on Wednesday, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the accusations coming from Canada are "concerning."
"We have been monitoring these developments with partners closely, we will continue to do so, and will confirm that we have raised our concerns with India," she said.
Wong also said that "Australia's principle position is that we believe the sovereignty of all countries should be respected."
with files from The Associated Press